Review of Seed Forum Singapore ’09

Seed ForumI attended Seed Forum Singapore this morning at Pan Pacific Ballroom 1 and listened in first to the 13-sec elevator pitches by 6 start-ups, and then their respective 10-minute presentations.  Roughly 100 people showed up for the inaugural event by Seed Forum International Foundation in Singapore.  The event’s sponsors included DnB NOR (main), Innovation Norway, DLA Piper, Spring Singapore, SVCA and BANSEA.

Seed Forum International Foundation is a not-for-profit foundation working out of London and is the international collaboration entity for the various national Seed Forum Master Partners. The Seed Forum concept has grown rapidly since it was founded in Norway in 2002, and the Seed Forum concept is currently referred to as a global concept.  Seed Forum International Foundation and Seed Forum Master Partners are currently conducting investor matchmaking forums in 17 countries in Europe, North America and Asia. (source: Seed Forum>About Us)

Seed Forum Singapore 2009

Eugene Wong of Sirius Ventures delivered his welcome speech briskly and along the way, dispelled a myth and introduced everyone to Sirius’ S$20m Business Angel Fund and S$20m SME Fund.

Notes from Start-up Presentations

1) Medsafe
– solution for contamination prevention (syringes).
– approx 30 needle injuries / 100 hospital beds handled,1 syringe is reused 7 times in Africa. Focus: safety & prevent contamination
– raising US$10-15m, projected NPAT of 24% by 2012. Exit strategy via M&A.

2) PortAhead
– products supporting security in supply chain of ports & transport hub. “intelligent port cargo system”
– appears to be a port workflow specialist system integrator
– entrepreneur was reading off script, struggled with his speech, english possibly not his first language; highly forgettable performance

3) Catch the Eye
– combining screens with mobile phones; digital out of home advertising
– has public coys and PE firms as shareholders
– reaches 1 in 4 Norwegians on weekly basis; makes people go “Oohgle!”
– revenue from impressions, couponing.
– spin-out from Reitangruppen, sees promise in mobile coupons outstripping web coupons, launching in SEA through S’pore

4) Syncrotec Group
– all-pay money auctions, tournament style, with big returns.
– targets Lotto (or as S’poreans know as Toto)
– claims to be in Infotainment, although recognizing its gaming leanings
– will contribute portion of gains to charity to fight child poverty
– looking to raise €1m; 20% software, 40% working $, 40% mktg.

5) Office 123
– “Customers don’t want single applications. They want interated business suites & they want it cheap”
– business-in-a-box bundling of ERP, CRM, accounting, etc
– seeking distributors

6) Carbatt Systems
– provide preferred power for next-gen automobiles; allows users to exchange batteries themselves & just drive on.
– subscription-based lease of batteries, complete infrastructure, full control over usage/comms, adaptable to future tech
– up to 500km between swaps, cost of battery at ~30% lower than competitors. Uses off-peak power to recharge returned batt
– “The Future is Electric”, but there has yet to be suitable supporting infrastructure. Cost per socket at US$2-3k, per backend charging unit at US$300k
– has 12+ new proj in 2009, req 2.5hr refitting, opensourcing its batt platform; competitor e.g. Better Place (http://www.betterplace.com/)

Verdict

Only Carbatt Systems really caught my attention – printer-toner strategy, what seemed to be a solid team, open-sourcing their battery bracket system, and a nice logo to boot!  Still, there’s no reason why the automobile giants can’t create or have access to better battery technology, and promote their own battery bracket systems (versus Carbatt’s).  Might warrant a deeper look.

On the other hand, Pan Pacific Hotel’s catered food was really something ;-).

About James Chan

James Chan is an entrepreneur, investor, geek, photographer and husband/father based out of Singapore. Apart from frequent travels to Vietnam, Myanmar and Indonesia for work, James can also be found online via his trusty 15" Retina MacBook Pro or iPhone 6+.